my first tour. / by rebekah pahl

i had never booked a tour before.

i had done one-off shows, but never a string of them. i didn't quite know where to start, but did the only thing i knew: followed my intuition, and let the act of moving through the process be my teacher. if you're like me, you take a (long) while to inhale all of the options and strategically gather details from how other people have done the thing you want to do. but, i've realized that there's only so much "gathering" i can do until i'm either hiding or stalling--and at some point, the journey has to be my own. no one can can live it for me. so i sent out emails to everyone i knew and asked if people would be interested in hosting house shows in their living rooms. gratefully, i know some of the most gracious and generous people on the planet who offered up their space and time. they said YES! and then i spent most of september living out of my Prius (she has two names, depending on her mood---"Yucca" and "Pale Blue Dot") driving almost 80 hours all the way out, then all around the west coast--and back to nashville. 

denver was first.

then

san diego

palo alto

san francisco

portland

los angeles (hotel cafe, holy shit!) 

albuquerque 

*took a short break* 

then chicago

waco 

and finally,

austin.

honestly, i had the time of my life. i felt alive and afraid and empowered all at once. 

over this past year, one of the things i've been working through in counseling is staying present in my body when i'm performing. when people ask me if i love performing my songs for an audience, my answer is nuanced. i don't get a thrill from being on a stage, but i live for the swell and electricity of a moment of connection. asking people to gather to listen to your songs and stories implies that you believe you have something to offer---and you're there holding it out hoping it's good enough. throughout this tour, i was putting myself in the way of my fear. and the experience of moving through that fear gave me something back:

 

moments of precious connection with friends on a similar journey (i'm in good company). 

that powerful feeling as i was learning how to set up my sound equipment on my own.

space to practice rebounding quicker after making a mistake--practicing gentleness towards myself.

a better sense of the songs i want to write. experiencing in real time what connects (usually the things i felt nervous and electric about saying).

 

in my kitchen, there's a chalkboard with the phrase, "do the next true thing." that's been my mantra, what i keep coming back to. my personality can get fixated on comparing or fantasizing about the future, rather than remaining grounded in my present reality. looking back i can see how this string of shows---these evenings spent communing with beautiful souls and sharing my songs---was an attempt to stay tethered to something. in the digital age, it's easy to forget we're embodied. that's the main reason i love live music---you can't quite capture through a screen the feeling of being physically together in one place--the birthplace of the moment where you can warm your hands by the flame.

i hope to be doing a lot more shows in 2018, and i'm so grateful for every last one of you who showed me kindness and generosity as i stepped into this frenzied, strange, and beautiful world of touring. i won't forget it. 

i recently went back to read some of my journal entries from this year and found this intention i wrote before a show...and it still resounds with me:

"to feel my two feet on the ground. to own the space i inhabit with confidence, curiosity, and humor. to release control. to not censor or change myself for the moment, but to channel everything inside."    

the next true thing might feel arbitrary--but if it's coming from that deep well of your inner voice---it might be completely necessary. sometimes the only thing you're waiting on is your own permission. 

 

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